Renovate but don’t expand the library
July 22, 2012
The Pitkin County Library was built to last. Its design and scale are in keeping with the community it was meant to serve. The building fits well in its surroundings. The library has planned areas for residents and visitors of all ages. The children’s library, the music library and computer stations are thoughtful additions that were welcomed by the community. I think everyone agrees that the library has served us well and needs to keep pace with changes that new technology has brought to the fields of learning and communication.
The library has collected donations of more than $5 million to fund a renovation to meet current and future needs. I have reviewed that plan and listened to and read comments of concerned citizens. Based on this review, I believe that using funds already in hand, the library can reconfigure its existing space and comfortably meet the needs and expectations of our community.
I question the need for expanding the 32,000-square-foot building by another 7,000 square feet. I also do not agree with adding community meeting space and extensive outdoor facilities that stretch the library’s mission. These community needs can and should be met by other public facilities. For example, the Aspen Art Museum building is a prime candidate for conversion into a flexibly planned conference center. Galena Plaza should be developed with neighboring structures in mind but not as an expansion of the library.
Renovating the library using available endowment funds is a fine idea. Expanding the library with new taxes seems unjustified and unnecessary.
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